Jimmie Higgins eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 312 pages of information about Jimmie Higgins.
do it; they had a definite philosophy, a definite programme, which they carried as a gospel to the wage-slaves of the world.  And they knew that this glad message would never die—­not all the jails and clubs and machine-guns in the country could kill it, not obloquy and ridicule, not hunger and cold and disease.  No! for the workers were hearing and understanding, they were learning the all-precious lesson of Solidarity.  They were forming the “one big union”, preparing the time when they would take over industry and administer it through their own workers’ councils, instead of through the medium of parliaments and legislatures.  That was the great idea upon which the Industrial Workers of the World was based; it was this they meant by “direct action”, not the sinister thing which the capitalist newspapers made out of the phrase.

III

The country was going into its own war, which it considered of importance, and it called upon Jimmie Higgins and the rest of his associates to register for military service.  In the month of June ten million men came forward in obedience to this call—­but Jimmie, needless to say, was not among them.  Jimmie and his crowd thought it was the greatest joke of the age.  If the country wanted them, let it come and get them.  And sure enough, the country came—­a sheriff, and some thirty farmers and turpentine-workers sworn in as deputies and armed with shot-guns and rifles.  Should their sons go overseas to be killed in battle, while these desperadoes continued to camp out on the country, living on hogs and chickens which honest men had worked to raise?  They had wanted to break up this “jungle” for some time; now they could do it in the name of patriotism.  They surrounded the camp, and shot one man who tried to slip out in the darkness, and searched the rest for weapons, and then loaded them into half a dozen automobiles and took them to the nearest lock-up.

So here was Jimmie, confronting a village draft-board.  How old was he?  The truth was that Jimmie did not know definitely, but his guess was about twenty-six.  The draft-limit being thirty, he swore that he was thirty-two.  And what were they going to do about it?  They didn’t know where he had been born, and they couldn’t make him tell—­because he didn’t know it himself!  His face was lined with many cares, and he had a few grey hairs from that night of horror when his loved ones had been wiped out of existence.

These farmers knew how to tell the age of a horse, but not how to tell the age of a man!

“We’ll draft ye anyhow!” vowed the chairman of the board, who was the local justice of the peace, an old fellow with a beard like a billy-goat.

“All right,” said Jimmie, “but you’ll get nothin’ out o’ me.”

“What d’ye mean?”

“I mean I wouldn’t fight; I’m a conscientious objector to war.”

“They’ll shoot ye!”

“Shoot away!”

Copyrights
Project Gutenberg
Jimmie Higgins from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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